Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Roger Stark, Historical Romance/ Biography/ Creative Non-fiction

Roger Stark

Historical Romance, WW2, Biography, Creative Non-fiction, 

Author of: They Called Him Marvin  

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  Several years ago while working as an Addiction Counselor I wrote two how-to books on recovery. I ended up self publishing them and have had a modest amount of success with the first, “The Waterfall Concept”  has some success. That process gave me a functioning knowledge of the process but I really had no plans or desires to write another book, on any subject.

And then I became friends with Marv Sherman.

Marv and Judy (Marv’s wife) had invited my wife, Sue and I to dinner, it was a sort of thank you dinner for some assistance I gave them when they went on a temporary work assignment (Marv is a veterinarian) to Alaska. Marv and I engaged in a rather emotional conversation about his father that he had never met. His father, Dean, was a B29 Airplane Commander during WW2, shot down over Nagoya Japan, captured and ……..(you will have to read the story to learn the rest.)

Marv’s knowledge of his father was staggeringly incomplete and he openly wept as he told me the story. He had avoided learning about what had happened to his father to avoid the pain the knowledge would bring to him. I felt a compassion for my friend overcame me and I committed to helping him learn of his Dad. That turned into a request to write the story and It was on.  

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  It took 8 years to write and publish TCHM. Much of that time was divided between research and re-writes. I knew little of the war and was shocked to learn the fates of B29 airman shot down over Japan, to say nothing of my shock at learning how the B29 were used against the Japanese people. During the Viet Nam War I was aware of vigorous condemnations of the use of napalm against the Viet Namese people. Turns out there was a good reason, they newly experience the horrors of fire bombing. Especially the fire bombing of urban areas without military targets. 

Marv had his parent’s letters from the war. Connie had kept everyone of Dean’s letters she received. The only letters from Connie he had were returned to her as undeliverable after he went MIA. Marv could not bring himself to even read the letters, he had attempted to transcribe them but that proved to be an emotional quagmire for him and he did not finish.  

What is your publishing process?

Author:  My process was certainly non-traditional. When I wrote “The Waterfall Concept” about 15 years ago I was a complete publishing novice. After finishing my manuscript I sent it to a few publishers for consideration, waiting for six months to hear back from them, I always got a similar reply, “Great manuscript, unfortunately, we are not interested.”

In my frustration, started to consider how to self publish. That is when I stumbled across Gorham Printing located just a few miles from me in Centraila, Wa. They specialize in helping self publishers, usually printing in small lots. I had to find my own editor and obtain an ISBN number, but they managed the formatting and printing process for me. I really cannot say enough good things about these people. They are incredible!

With several hundred copies of my book, I literally took off in the family car in search of a distributor. That trip did not go well. After lots of miles and lots of “No’s” I gave up and started for home. There was one more potential stop that I had written off because of all the other responses I had received. But a few miles north of Salt Lake City, I engaged in a rather lengthy sales conversation with the owner of Brigham Distributing. I could tell as the conversation wore on that the owner was weighing this opportunity in his mind, with it’s very low chance of much profitability. He startled me when he jumped up and said, “Sure we will distribute your book, do you have any copies with you?”

I could not unload the car fast enough, afraid he might change his mind. Brigham took care of creating the ebook, getting the Amazon listing, and getting bookstores know the book was available.

With all that in mind when I was finishing the “They Called Him Marvin” manuscript, I never considered anything but self publishing. I knew what hoops I had to jump through and it all seemed easier the third time through. 

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     The secret sauce for me were the writing groups at the Writer’s Attic in Portland Or. Great comrades as we each worked on our individual projects, reading and critiquing each other’s work, we all grew as writers. Many of the key elements of TCHM were developed in the those groups sitting around the tables giving feedback to each other

Normally I don’t respond well to criticisms of my writing (a serious pride issue on my part) but somehow in those groups, my defenses dropped and I could hear what others were saying. Perhaps that speaks to the trust we developed in each other, it was a rather remarkable experience, making these new friends and growing to love them. We could, after all, see right into their hearts by reading their writings.

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:   Reviews. They are quite the writers’s challenge when launching a work.  I thought I was being very aggressive about getting pre publication reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Being not very well connected in the writing world, I did not have a bevy of fellow writers to trade reviews with. I bought a few initially, used Netgalley, and some other like sources, gaining a few reviews but not in the quantity that I had hoped for. I turned to family (who cares that their last name is the same as mine) then friends, then in a desperation move, acquaintances, using a very loose definition of the word. A few friends talked their friends into helping out and by the publication date we had enough to launch.  

How do you promote your content?

Author: If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. This is where I made my biggest mistake in judgment.  I felt pretty good about marketing and promoting of my Addiction Recovery books . Well, what I learned back then, really didn’t apply to a book about a WW2 love story with a tragic ending. Suffice it to say I am still working on this part of my project. 

I did make a rather expensive mistake on Amazon advertising. In my inexperience I made a several thousand dollar blunder that netted me nothing, I still swear a little bit when I think about it.

I do like Book Tours obviously and feel they are well worth the money. Reduced price promotions of the ebook have raised awareness also. We have a constant Facebook presence and ad campaigns, Amazon ads are on the back burner for now. They have a place in my marketing plan, I am just not sure I know where that is yet. 

About Your Work

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      To remember and honor those that have given so much in our behalf. In TCHM Dean gave his all in service to his country, but it didn’t stop there, his wife and son went on giving the rest of their lives, deprived of a relationship with him. 

Marvin was a half orphan and struggled to figure out life. Some of his teenage exploits are both humorous and terrifying at the same time. He quit high school and in a moment of clarity realized that he needed some discipline that a place, like say the Army, might bring into his life. He was absolutely right about the Army and after his service he went onto college to become a licensed veterinarian. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:   My experience is that there are local writer’s groups all over this country and if there isn’t one in your area the internet can bring one to you. For me writing was the main thing that helped me improve my skills. I wrote for a recovery magazine for several years, my editor towards the end of that work made the comment, “Your writing skills have really improved.” That was news to me! I thought I was just writing like I always did, my own eyes could not see the improvements. That shows the importance of another pair of eyes looking at your work. You don’t need to believe everything you hear, as we say in recovery, “just take what you like and leave the rest.”

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:    I am a rewriter! I long ago lost count of the chapter ones for TCHM. My brain can just see a better way to phrase a passage when I look at a written presentation of it. Ann Lamott in an article on writing gave us all permission to write a shitty first draft. (Her word not mine) That advice has served me very well, when I stopped trying to write the perfect sentence the first time through, the quality and quantity of my writing increased dramatically.

After I was about one half way through my manuscript, Marv came to me with a family history Connie had penned that had been lost to the family. The facts she revealed did not agree with the creative non fiction account I had conjured up. Which meant I wasn’t half way through my manuscript at all.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  SELF DOUBT. I will say no more on the subject.  

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:   There were three things I  listened to as I wrote. (I am listening to one of them now as I write this.) Disturbed’s version of “Sounds of Silence,” The theme to “The Last of the Mohicans” and Boston’s “Third Stage” album. All were on continuous tape and played at a very high volume.    

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:    I am not sure of the food or snack but I know such breaks involved Dr Pepper!  

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Angela D Shelton, Christian/Young Adult

I’m currently writing under my true name, Angela D. Shelton in the Christian Fiction, Young Adult genres. In March, I published Collapse: The Death of Friendship with Two Oaks Publishing, LLC. The second book in the series, Collapse: The Death of Honor should be out by June.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My grandmother was a writer who used her craft to help pay my aunt’s way through college. Though she died before I was able to have conversations with her about her writing, I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps. In my freshman year of college, I took a creative writing class as an elective and the professor tried to convince me to change my major to writing. At that time, I figured there was no money in writing for most people, so stayed on my track to becoming an accountant. Two years ago I decided it was time to try my hand at creating stories for the page, and I’ve found that I absolutely love it.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first book took about six months to write. Unfortunately, it was a learning experience. The result was so awful that my own sister didn’t even finish reading it. Fortunately, I found the American Christian Writers Association and Word Weavers who provided mentoring opportunities through critique groups. There are some amazing writers out there and those I’ve worked the closest with have indicated my work is pretty good now, so I’m excited to share my work with others. Even my sister read my first published book and loved it. She’s waiting impatiently for the second book to be published. Even my sisters don’t get to see it until then.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I am an independently published author. As an accountant, I understand the financial side of the business and could see very little benefit to traditional publishing other than the vanity aspects of it. I see that it will take a bit more time for my work to be recognized as an indie, but I’m patient.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      My critique group pointed me in the right direction. Because my protagonist is a young adult, it makes sense for me to sell to that audience; however, a number of my critique partners have indicated that adults would enjoy my book just as much as the younger set.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Since I’m just starting out, I see success in every positive review that I obtain. Unfortunately, many more people tell me how much they enjoyed my book than those who take the time to write a review for me. I do encourage them to write, but folks are busy.

About Your Work

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      As a Christian, my goal is to share the joy I experience on a daily basis. So many people struggle in their lives, it’s hard to watch sometimes. If I can bring a positive message that helps even one person, it’s worth it. I don’t like heavy-handed preaching though. For the most part, Americans are aware of Christianity, and many have walked away from it for various reasons. Rarely do they walk away from it because of God. Usually, it’s over other Christians and how they’ve been treated. I get that. I’ve been there and “bought the t-shirt” as they say. But we were put on this earth to encourage each other and that’s my goal.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a combination of pantsing and plotting. Using the Save the Cat method, I put together my basic outline of the story. But once I’m writing, I often find myself writing my way out of my outline and have to go back and re-outline because I prefer the direction the new story is going.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. Seriously, it drives me nuts when someone is talking when I’m writing. I live out on a farm, which is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. So my favorite sounds are birds, chickens, cows, and sometimes my dogs who love to complain. Two huskies, Ricky and Lucy, usually sit nearby when I’m writing, and if I take too long without paying attention to them, they “talk” to me about it. If dogs could cuss, I’d swear they were at me some days.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      It all depends on the day and time. I like to sit at the kitchen island, in the early mornings at my desk, or if I’m on vacation, in the hotel room at the desk with the window open to the beach. Nature inspires me, so my favorite spots include the sounds of animals or the ocean. It’s almost always enhanced with a hot cup of chai latte though. That’s the one constant.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I can’t share the title yet, because I’m reading for a fellow author who hasn’t yet published it. It’s a really good read though, so watch my website for my review that will be out soon.

Author Interviews, Blog, Children's Book Blog

Author Interview: Lindsay Payne, Children’s/Fiction/Non-fiction

Lindsay Payne is the author of Children’s picture books and chapter books, non-fiction, and fiction which is her favorite to write.

Red Shoes & Wine is published, 99 Red Balloons is in the editing phase and will hopefully be available on Amazon end of February 2022, and she will commence writing The Red Butterfly in February 2022. Her most recent publication is Granny Clampet’s Cupcakes.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     I wrote my first book in 2006 – Bags of Trouble for Valeskia Maleskia – about a beautiful fish trapped in a plastic bag in the ocean. I realized there was a message and moral I wanted to write about and so began the journey of writing children’s books – each with a moral, intertwined between the pages.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      It took me three weeks to write Bags of Trouble

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Yes definitely.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie author, purely because it was very difficult to find a literary agent who was willing to give me a chance. I spent years trying to go the traditional route and it was only around five years ago, I found the indie route and it’s been a fabulous ride.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:    I’m still working on that! My children’s books generally sell through word of mouth and through mums scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. 

What is your publishing process?

Author:   I publish through KDP on Amazon.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I currently publish on Amazon only, but market on Facebook, Instagram and have just started the Tik Tok journey.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I ask close friends if they will read my first draft for me and provide honest, unbiased feedback. I met my editor through a Facebook group last year and he’s now become a good friend and my editor which I’m truly grateful for.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      I use Facebook mainly and have three pages I bounce between, my personal page, my children’s book page and my adult book page. I’m not as active on Instagram, as I am still learning the ropes and have just started using Tik Tok.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:   I don’t have a solid plan. What I currently do is publish on Amazon and then will write a blurb about that particular book with the cover image. Once the book is available on Amazon, I then post the links on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok.  

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     Once my second last edit is back, I will then post on FB that I’m looking for new beta readers. When sending the book to them, I ask that once they’ve finished reading it, would they be happy to write a review.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Usually a blurb on Facebook or Instagram. I’ve tried FB Ads, but I haven’t been too successful with that. I think it’s all to do with target market and I’m still working my way around research on how to be more precise.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      I think “soft marketing” is definitely the best approach. One also has to be very mindful of how to self-promote – something I truly battle with.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:  When an author is being mentioned among other authors, then you know that your name is getting out there. Not only are we our own worst critics, but our fellow authors can be too, so if you are being discussed among fellow colleagues for all the right reasons, then you generally should be “good to go!”   

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      Moral based children’s books – which have stemmed from my swimming coaching career since the age of twenty. More recently, I’ve dived into thriller-based novels and at this stage of my life, this is where I’m happiest writing.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:     Children’s picture and chapter books, non-fiction and fiction.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:   My children’s book illustrator, has found her own style with creating the images for all my children’s books and this branding seems to be working well. She has a very keen eye for detail and is very perceptive to the precise images I’m trying to portray.  I had been searching for an illustrator for quite a while, because I literally can’t draw to save my life, and within a few days Meg had produced the image for “When A Stranger Says Hello” a little book for children about stranger danger.


Sally has a wonderful life and special friends. Her best friend is Tessa who lives next door. They have been friends with each other since they first met at nursery school five years ago. Now they are in primary school in the third grade.

The besties love school and seeing each other every day. Both girls are very good readers and often come first and second in the class for their beautiful essays. Their stories are filled with adventure and excitement and Sally in particular, thrives on adventure.

The one thing Sally struggles with is swimming. She is not a very strong swimmer and feels embarrassed about this, until one day she has no choice but to swim.

Follow Sally on her lifesaving, life changing adventure.


How many works have you published?

Author:      I’ve written thirty-one children’s books, two non-fiction books and have just completed the second book in a trilogy series.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Granny Clampet’s Cupcakes was inspired by an aunt who lives in the UK. She’s a lady everyone loves and a grandmother to eight children. She’s led a very interesting, incredible life and is someone you can have a jolly good chat with. She can talk to anyone, no matter your background or age and so, with this in mind, the idea came to me one day where I thought about how we can’t be good at everything, but as long as we are a good person.

Granny Clampet lives in a cottage on the outskirts of a lovely village called Wiltshire. She has a wonderful life playing golf once a week, bridge twice a week, Scottish dancing every weekend and attending book club once a month.

She’s a terrible baker and this is all tested one day when she’s asked to bake something for the local Wiltshire Community Fundraiser. A whole lot of chaos arises in her kitchen, which creates a chain of remarkable events.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      I always try to introduce some sort of villain element into every book I write, taking every opportunity I can, to add in red-herrings and twists and turns, especially in my thriller books.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      I’ve always had a love of writing and seeing words formulate into a sentence and then into a paragraph and a page. My love for writing and the bug that bit, has not changed. I had no goal in mind five years ago when I first self-published, I just wanted to write and that has not changed.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:   I have a website, a Facebook page for my children’s books and adult books, an Instagram page and have just started on the Tik Tok journey.   As far as finding the support, I certainly have on all the services you mention, which have been the greatest help.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:    I aspire to move people when they read my books, to have some emotional attachment to all the stories and characters. 

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Marketing is not my strong point, as I really struggle to self-promote, preferring the softer marketing version. So currently, I’m reading up on all sorts of techniques and tricks required to market.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:    I still get an absolute thrill with the start of any book. I love forming the characters, sprinkling them with idiosyncancies that will help connect the reader to the character. I thoroughly enjoy the research that goes into my thriller novels, because this process ignites the beginning of the storyline, plots and subplots and I still get a kick, every single time with the publishing process — as my manuscript is being uploaded, the sense of achievement is a buzz.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I would highly recommend Mark Dawson’s – Ad’s for Authors and Joanne Penn – The Creative Penn – both on You Tube. There is an endless supply of information, tips from experienced authors.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      I read my first James Patterson book, Kiss the Girls, when I was twenty-two and then soon afterwards, discovered Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, while browsing in a book store one day. My thrillers are inspired by the writing style of these two authors.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      Yes, I’ve always written in the genre I read, which has definitely made it easier when creating stories. I love reading crime fiction, immersing myself in the story for days.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I stick to a good ole word doc. My budget was very limited when I started on the indie writing path and so I couldn’t afford any specialized app that could help with the process. I’ve become so used to a word document, that I still use it today.

Regarding writing children’s books, I fall back on life lessons that I’ve learnt along the way through various people I’ve met. A moral will form in my mind and then I begin to work out how I can tell the story through a child’s eyes and remain on their level. It usually takes me a week to create and finish a very rough first draft.

With the non-fiction books I’ve written, the first one took me three days to write and a month to proofread and edit. It was easy enough to do, because it was a personal story. The second non-fiction book I wrote, took about two months to complete.

My first thriller in the “Red” series, Red Shoes & Wine – The Sex Traffickers, took me exactly two months to write and two months to edit. I’ve just completed my second book in the “Red” series, 99 Red Balloons – The Organ Traffickers, took me just under three months to complete and is currently in the editing phase. My third book in the “Red” trilogy series, The Red Butterfly – The Drug Traffickers, is yet to be written. I hope to start writing this one in mid Feb 2022 and plan to take my time nurturing it and filling in all the scenarios of crime situations that I’ve been storing away for years.

I use a separate word doc for plotting, sub plot formation and chapters. It’s a fast-track technique that I use to keep referring back to interchanging characters as well as keeping an eye on specific details that need to be remembered and are crucial to the unfolding chain of events.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:     I’ve joined three major groups on Facebook, which has been paramount in learning as much as I can from fellow author’s and entrepreneurs. They are three very dynamic groups and all unique in what they offer. I’ve started to push myself out of my comfort zone and am networking in a more proactive way.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

  

Author:   Regarding my thriller novels, I’m a sprint-write, high on the writing drug maniac!! I sleep, eat, breathe my characters and the moment a new sub-plot is forming on the tail end of the one in front, I become manic. This demon writing possessed form that overcomes me, is probably not the most therapeutic enhancing but I thrive on the adrenalin!   

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:    Overcoming my deep fears of self-doubt regarding my writing. Once I jumped that hurdle, it’s made life a whole lot easier.   

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I think I can speak on behalf of most authors when I say, that writing is deeply personal. It’s a very fine balance between not taking anything too personally if someone is giving sound advice and feedback and letting the hard knocks wash over you. Follow your heart and instincts when it comes to your words and storyline. No-one else will have a story like yours, so write with confidence and it will show in the end product. Try to always remain humble, for we never stop learning and growing. 

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Just take the leap of faith. I always advise that even writing that first word, will then lead into a sentence, into a paragraph and into a book, you just have to start somewhere.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I actually wouldn’t change one thing, because all the challenges have helped to shape my writing, ensuring I strive for a higher standard of quality and excellence.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I think initially I fell into the gun-shy promoter category, but am now slowly turning the corner into a driven and self-advocating author. I’ve had to push through that barrier of self-doubt and blaze forwards.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:    The storyline of all my books keeps me motivated. As I finish one story, I’m already thinking of the next one. My fingers are never far from the keyboard, so I’m very grateful that I can remain motivated.  I also try and swim at least four times a week which helps my mind to remain healthy and focused and a lot of plots come to me when I’m blowing bubbles.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     This is one of the writing hurdles that so far, I’ve been very lucky not to battle with! There are too many thoughts racing through my mind at any one time. It’s a very busy place in there! LOL!

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      Up until September 2021, I had absolutely no idea what formatting really meant. I would just write away happily, completely clueless that I was creating all these unnecessary tabs and gaps in my document. I learnt the hard way and had to redo a two-hundred-page book which took me nearly a month to complete. It was tedious, pain staking work, so I’ve learnt so much from that mistake and I’m never doing that again!

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:    The reactions have been a mixed bag. Some very helpful hints and tips have come through from family and friends and some not so helpful hints and tips have come through from family and friends.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:     I think one assumption that is a myth is that authors wile away their days languishing in comfy chairs and writing when they feel like it, the rest of the time taking leisurely naps! Or taking trips to the coast or woodlands so that they can glean inspiration from these locations! There’s nothing further from the truth.  Most authors I know, are getting by on the sniff of an oil rag and so they need to rely on their imagination to whisk a reader off to an exotic place, all created from a single idea from their mind.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Usually the generator powering away in the background! LOL! Living in Zambia the power cuts we have at the moment are immense. If the power is on, I prefer a quiet space in which to write.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Because I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, I have a heap of phrases and sayings that are often in my conversations and I have to be so mindful of this when I’m writing a book in American English. Some of the words I use often are, “Eish” (Wow), “Hobos” (Heaps), “Brekky” (Breakfast), “Muti” (Medicine), “Chisa” (Hot), “Shamwari” (Friend), “Mampara” (Naughty), “Chingwa” (Bread), “Arvie” (Afternoon).

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have the cutest, tiniest office with no windows. It’s my sanctuary and the place I feel safest and where all my writing and scrawling’s are created. The climate in Zambia can be scorching in summer and so, instead of finding another room in which to write, I just move the fan closer to me and continue writing away. I have such a connection to this space and feel emotionally at peace here.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:    The Store, by James Patterson.   

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      That’s a tough one. I think we all just need to be confident in our writing ability and that in itself will set you apart – my theory that no-one else will have the same story or book as you is important to remember, so that you don’t become overwhelmed by self-doubt.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:   I’m determined, focused and motivated when it comes to writing and I’ve learnt to dig deep and follow my instincts with certain techniques and writing styles.  

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee and anything crunchy – the crunchy snacks certainly seem to help with forming  sub-plots!

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:   I have two cats, Toby & Cosmo, and two dogs, Shilo and Nala. They all seem to take it in turns to sit with me, although my pointer Shilo, is always by my side when I write. She brings me such comfort and a relaxed aura.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:  Take one second at a time and then one minute. Don’t do tomorrow, before you’ve completed today and live in the moment!   

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books?

You can find me on Facebook @ Lindsay Payne Children’s Books & L. D. Payne Books, and my handle on Instagram and Tik Tok is @lindsaypaynebooks. My website is: https://www.lindsaypaynebooks.com

Look forward to connecting with you all!

You can also find Lindsay Payne on Amazon.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: R. W. Harrison, Supernatural Thrillers

My main genre is supernatural thrillers. My most recent book is Raven’s Temple, published in January 2022, about a serial killer who belongs to a cult that promises immortality.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  I began writing seriously in 2011. I had a rough story idea loosely based on a series of hauntings I experienced many years ago and finally decided to get it down on paper. It became the first book in my Onyx Trilogy, The Onyx Seed.   

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author: It took me three years from start to finish, including research, writing, editing/proofreading, cover design and formatting.    

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:  I’ve been able to condense that timeframe over the years. My latest book took exactly a year from beginning the outline to publication.   

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:  I’m an indie author. I did a lot of research as I was finishing up my first book, on both traditional and indie publishing. It came down to a business decision for me. I liked the control that indie publishing offered and that the timeline was of my choosing. Plus, the profit margins are higher.   

What is your publishing process?

Author:  I enlist the help of other authors that I trust for beta reads after I’ve self-edited the first draft. After taking their suggestions and rewriting as necessary, I send it to my editing team. After my rewrites and another review from my editors, it gets polished and proofread, and I work on the formatting and cover design. Once that’s all done, I upload to KDP.   

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:  So far, it’s been exclusively with Amazon’s KDP platform, but I am considering going wide.   

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:  I’m active on a few Facebook groups, including Beta Readers and Critique Partners and Self Publishing Support Group. I’ve made a lot of author friends in the groups and their help with beta reading has been invaluable. 

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author: It’s small, but growing. My platform consists of readers who are new to supernatural thrillers. My books aren’t too dark or scary, so they’re “safer” for the casual reader who just wants a hint of the supernatural in what they read. I also include a lot of geographical references in my writing, so people who live in, or have visited the particular areas, enjoy reading about landmarks and scenery they’re familiar with.    

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: I definitely need to ramp up this part of my marketing. I haven’t taken advantage of ARCs yet, but will for my next book. I promote the books on my personal social media and my author pages, and “lightly” promote it in some of the other groups I’m active on.    

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author: In the back of my books, I encourage people to leave honest reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and any other place they normally review books.      

How do you promote your content?

Author:  One of the things I’ve done is become active in Facebook groups that are focused on where my books take place. For example, my Onyx Trilogy takes place mostly in and around Letchworth State Park in upstate New York. There is a large and engaged FB group for the park and I have enlisted the group’s help with research questions, explaining that I’m writing a book that is set in Letchworth. I keep the group informed on the progress, ask more questions, etc. When it released, I asked the administrator of the group if I could announce it. They agreed and I did, which resulted in a lot of interest and sales. The key is to be an active, genuine member of the group, and not be spammy.   

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:  I haven’t figured it out yet, but from everything I’ve read, it’s writing more books, being consistent with your marketing, and being authentic.   

How do you define success as an author?

Author:  Personally, I’ll be successful if I can write full time.   

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:  I write primarily supernatural thriller novels, approximately 75-80K words in length. I am currently outlining a straightforward thriller.   

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:  My slogan is “Books to Leave the Lights on For”. My brand is tied to my genre – supernatural thrillers. I’m fascinated by the things unseen in this universe. Sometimes we call them ghosts or spirits or poltergeists. I may not be convinced that those things exist, even though I experienced a haunting myself, but science hasn’t explained them all yet. The things that go bump in the night make for terrific stories.

How many works have you published?

Author: I have published four books: One trilogy and a stand-alone novel.     

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

      

Author: Raven’s Temple follows a man suffering from a debilitating disease who belongs to a cult that promises immortality. He’s chasing a cure and wants to live forever, but what the cult asks him to do to achieve that eternal life comes at a steep price. It takes place in north central Florida, in the Ocala National Forest and involves ravens, hence the title, which are usually not found in Florida. I had a lot of fun researching ravens and crows, and cults.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author: I try to keep the reader turning pages, so often I will end a chapter with a mini-cliffhanger. The next chapter usually changes POV to another character, so if you want to know how the earlier chapter ended, you have to keep reading.    

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:  I knew I had a story to tell and initially, I just wanted to make sure I could do it. Once I had it down on paper, my goal shifted to getting it in readers’ hands.     

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:  As a genre writer, I offer an escape. A fun rollercoaster of a read that can be enjoyed over a few days and hopefully a story and characters that will be remembered.   

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:  I love the brainstorming part before I’ve even begun writing. Jotting down ideas, bouncing story lines off other authors, coming up with twists and turns for the plot. That’s my favorite part.   

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author: I got a lot out of the MasterClass video courses, especially the courses by Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, and David Baldacci. I also recommend Mark Dawson’s SPF courses for marketing. A great, free resource for marketing is Ricardo Fayet’s book, “How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market”. It’s available for free on Amazon as an ebook. David Gaughran also offers a wealth of free information on indie publishing.      

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author: In a way, my books are similar to those of Scott Smith, Nick Cutter, and John Langan. Libraries are great places to discover new authors, and since I work in one, it’s easy to see what’s popular or new on the scene.    

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:  I have to be careful with what I’m reading when I’m writing, especially during the brainstorming phase. For example, I’m working on a novella about a haunted lighthouse and happened to start reading a horror novel that takes place in a lighthouse. I put the book down because I didn’t want to unconsciously steal ideas from the book.   

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author: I’m kind of a hybrid between a pantser and a plotter. I started my first book, The Onyx Seed, as a pantser, totally enamored with the idea of just sitting down at the computer and typing out my Great American Novel. However, it didn’t take long to write myself into a corner because those characters sometimes take on a life of their own. So I outlined the rest of the book, and that made it so much easier. Now I work from a loose outline, which allows me to go in other directions if I have to.    

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:  I’ve found my community of fellow authors mostly on Facebook. Some on Instagram, but I’m somewhat more established in FB.   

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author: I wish I could write in sprints, but I’m definitely more of a turtle writer. I’m getting faster, though.    

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  Figuring out the marketing and business end of the journey. I’m far more comfortable with the writing and editing. It’s getting your book in the hands of readers that’s the most challenging.   

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author: If I let it, it could be demotivating, but I’m confident that, if I just keep writing quality books, they’ll find an audience. They already have, but it’s modest. I’m not sure who said it, but I heard a quote recently…you want to get to the point where you’re not the one beating the drum for your books – your fans are.    

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author: Keep reading in your genre, read outside your genre, learn the craft, practice, ask questions. And, as the title of James Scott Bell’s book says, “Just Write”.    

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author: I began writing at the age of 47. If I could do it over again, I would have started much earlier.    

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author: Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to marketing. I know what I need to work on, but I’m far more interested in writing more books. I justify this because I know one of the keys to being successful is having a large backlist of books.    

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: I try to set goals for myself, usually 3,000 words a week. Life gets in the way too much for me to set daily goals. I try to reward myself if I hit the goal with one of my guilty pleasures…watching an old, classic movie.    

The peacefulness of a small, post-World War II town in New York is shattered when Larry McConnell drowns mysteriously in a local lake. When a kind boarder joins Larry’s widow, Margaret, and her young son Davey, she begins to think her house may be haunted.

The sheriff believes a rogue deputy is responsible for Larry’s death while Margaret reluctantly seeks the help of a palm reader. The psychic identifies a dresser in Davey’s room as the source of the haunting and the root of the evil that is now swirling around them and threatening Margaret’s son.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:  I usually listen to Psychedelicized.com. A streaming channel that plays classic psychedelic rock from 1967-70. That’s my go-to music.   

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author: I have an office in the house. I’m very fortunate to have a dedicated space that’s totally mine. It has built-in bookshelves on one wall, a large desk, a comfy chair, and a nice view.    

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:  I just finished “The Hollow Places”, a horror novel by T. Kingfisher. Next up is “The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land” by Thomas Asbridge. I tend to read a mix of fiction and non-fiction, mostly history.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author: I’ve learned that dreams can come true. I’ve always wanted to be an author. Writing and publishing one book got me there. And now I’m hooked and loving it. Now my dream is to do this full time.    

Do you have a writing companion?

Author: Often our black cat Tucker keeps me company in the office. One of these days, I’ll include him in a book.    

Readers can find my books on Amazon and more information about them and me on my website, www.rwharrisonbooks.com. I also offer author services such as editing, cover design, and formatting, with details on my website.   

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Nicholas P. Adams, Sci-fi, Fantasy

In writing circles, I go by Nicholas P. Adams. I typically write SciFi, but I dabble in high fantasy. My most recent published work is an anthology I co-edited with my critique group and my current WIP is a futuristic SciFi Thriller/Mystery.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I caught the writing bug in 2013 when I came across a quote, I believe by Toni Morrison. “When you can’t find the book you want to read, you must write it.” I’d had a story idea (favorite world for daydreaming) in my head for over ten years, so I decided to chase the lightning. That quest became The Angels’ Secret, my first self-published novel.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      I wrote the first 80K word draft in a month (I knew nothing about NaNoWriMo at the time) and spent the next year revising and adding content until It became the 147K behemoth it is today.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      See the previous answer.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Not really. After writing my first novel, I got into submitting short stories to the Writers of the Future contest. Partially, it was to get practice writing, but mostly it was to trying to get discovered.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie-publisher still hoping to get recognized by a big house, but I’m also looking at smaller and hybrid publishers for a high fantasy novel I finished last year. I started the indie route because I wanted to see my author name on a cover, so I suppose it was more for vanity’s sake, but since then, I’ve enjoyed the process of exploring some of the issues we face in our modern world in a way that engages a readers imagination and sense of wonder.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I don’t. I write for me. If my stories resonate with individuals, that’s wonderful. If somehow I can cast a wider net and reach a larger audience, that’s all gravy.

What is your publishing process?

Author:    It’s progressed over the years. I started out as a pure pantser, but I’ve learned how plotting first strengthens the ideas I start with.  I tend to write my first drafts in chronological order, and I edit as I go. I then put it through Grammarly to help me with punctuation, repeated words, unclear sentences, tenses, etc. Then I share each chapter with my critique group to get feedback. After I incorporate their suggestions, I consider it final. If I decide to self-publish a story, I’ll hire a cover designer directly and get feedback from the writing community on each iteration until I select the final design.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:     Only Kindle Directly Publishing so far. But my anthology is published through a small house that manages it on all the other platforms as well.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I get alpha critiques from my writer’s group. I enlist fellow writers from social media for beta feedback. I’ve also hired independent editors on small projects. It’s hard to afford professional editing services when you have a small writing budget. However, I would say that hiring a developmental coach to help me plot my WIP was the best money I’ve ever spent. I feel like I can do my own chapter by chapter editing after she helped me nail down the plot points and structure.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      To be honest, I don’t have one, not officially anyway. I do have a website and accounts on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as my Author page on Amazon.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      In the past, I’ve used Goodreads giveaways and promoting myself on social media. For my fantasy novel, I’m hoping to get picked up by a literary agent or small press and work with them on promotions, setting up a local launch party, giveaways, etc.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I used to use Goodreads giveaways until they started charging, but when I had a limited writing budget I had to forgo that avenue. But my co-publishers and I will be doing a giveaway on Goodreads for our anthology early in 2021. And I’ll be investing in them for all my future works.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Mostly on social media. I like to participate in daily writing prompts on Twitter and post snippets from several stories in hopes of building up a fan base.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Unless you’re a newly discovered rising star: Time. It’s hard to break in without a fanbase, and it’s hard to get a fanbase when you’re an unknown, and it takes time to build up a fanbase without heavy promotion through representation and ads.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I feel like I’ve been successful when someone says I wrote something that resonated with them. But, also being able to write full-time and make enough to keep a roof over my family’s head and food in their bellies would be fantastic.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I like to write epic SciFi because I’m a geeky nerd at heart. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, and I love books with fantastic worlds and cultures. But, I also learned I like high fantasy because it allows me to explore human issues with non-human characters. I dabble in poetry, and I wrote a screenplay once (just for the experience) and I spent the last five years writing short stories for the WofF contest. I’ve found that writing short stories is good practice for writing chapters in a novel, and a good novel is a series of short stories with an overarching plot.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I like to write speculative fiction, which I consider SciFi/Fantasy crossovers. But I would say my subgenres are mystery and adventure.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      I consider my brand is embodied in my author photo. I hide my face because I want to be known for my writing. I decided on it when I started because I want to retain a degree of anonymity. What if I become really famous? Anonymity. What if my writing really sucks? Anonymity.

How many works have you published?

Author:      I self-published one SciFi novel and two short stories. One of my short stories was published in a small-press anthology, and I co-published an anthology of short stories, all of which were honored by Writers of the Future.

(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Cresting the Sun is my awarding winning anthology, recently won the 2020 Gold Quill from the League of Utah Writers for Published Collections. All 12 stories are award winners from Writers of the Future. It’s available on Amazon and other platforms, and we’ll be starting a giveaway on Goodreads in early 2021.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      This is a difficult question to answer because I’ve experimented with so many elements over the years. I think the best stories are good vs evil, but I like my villains to be sympathetic. I want the reader to see both sides of the issue, and understand the reasoning of both the protagonist and the antagonist. And I love a good twist. I love a story that seems to be going one way, and then after you get hit with the twist, the clues were there all along so it’s not out of the blue.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      My first goal was to become famous and independently wealthy. Has it changed? Yes, and no. I still want to be independent enough to write full-time, but I want to be known for writing good, thought-provoking stories that emotionally resonate with people and give them a glimpse of a hopeful future, not the dismal one I see so often these days.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:      I have a blog where I promote fellow authors and write reviews of the books I read.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      I want to whisk them away to another world and help them see from someone else’s perspective for a time and realize we’re not that different after all.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Finding representation.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      Getting messages on social media or through my website that someone was deeply moved by something I wrote.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      David Farland has a wonderful newsletter with tips on all things writing. I’ve also learned quite a bit from K.M. Weiland

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I usually read SciFi, but I’ve also branched out into other genres when fellow authors ask me to review their work. It may not resonate with me as a reader, but I do get ideas on how to improve my writing as an author.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      As I said earlier, I started out as a pantser. Then I started plotting my short stories using the 7-Point Plot Outline (which is based on the Star Trek RPG Guide)  as presented by Dan Wells at LTUE years ago. Then, for my WIP, I hired a developmental editor to help me outline my novel after I’d spent months tinkering with ideas and trying to outline it myself. Sometimes, we’re too close to it that we need someone else to help us see and map out the big picture.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      I mostly connect with my fellow authors on Twitter, and then on Instagram.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      Having a regular 9-5 day job, I have to pace myself to a little time each day. On rare occasions, like when my family is gone for the weekend, I can spend a Saturday writing uninterrupted.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Patience. I suppose I had unrealistic expectations as to my meteoric rise to fame and fortune. After all, it’s ever been easier to get published. On the other hand, it’s never been more difficult to get read. I’ve heard KDP has over 1,000 new books published every day, so getting someone to choose your book over the (literally) millions of others makes getting noticed harder each day.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I’ve yet to find success with queries. Agents, like all people, have subjective tastes and it comes down to the laws of supply and demand. Agents and publishers are looking for stories that will sell. I hear that getting a deal with the big 5 publishers is still the best road to fame and fortune, but it’s a hurdle I’ve not figured out how to surpass. My advice to budding writers: learn all you can about the writing craft (structure, grammar, editing, etc) and write the stories that make your fingertips tingle on the keyboard.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Attend local or virtual writing conferences. Listen and learn from those who are further along the path. Sign up for newsletters and, like Stephen King said, read, read, read. You can learn as much about what NOT TO DO from a poorly written book as what TO DO from a well-written one.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I wouldn’t have started by pantsing a novel. I would have started with short stories and developed my voice before taking on a novel-sized project.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      A little bit of all three. I’m shameless about sharing snippets of my work on social media, tentative when it comes to promoting my works available for purchase, and (unfortunately) wait until after publication to announce a new work for sale.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      For me, writing is like moving. If I don’t do it for a couple of days, I start to feel restless. Even if it’s just a 280-character off-the-cuff piece on Twitter, I need to exercise my creative muscles on a regular basis. Most days, I can only go for a short jog. On others, I can do a marathon.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force it. Step away from a project. Go for a walk. Set it aside for a couple of days. Do something physical. It’s amazing how much inspiration comes when I’m exerting physical energy that my mental back-burner is simmering and fresh ideas bubble to the surface.

Also, I pray. I pray every day for inspiration that will touch the minds and hearts of the people who will read my stories. I want them to feel encouraged and hopeful, even if my stories are riddled with bleak moments. In the end, I want them to find hope for the future.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      Investment. I never knew how much blood, sweat, time, and tears authors invested to get where they are today.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      My family and friends were, and remain, ardently supportive. My parents especially (perhaps so much that I doubted their objectivity). But, for the most part, my writing has been well-received from family and friends (old and new).

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:     

1) We’re all coffee addicts. I’ve never drunk it in my life. I get my caffeine from soda.

2) We’re all book junkies. I enjoy a good book, but I also like stories in visual formats (theater, TV, and films)

3) We’re all introverts. Well, that one is more true than not. I know one author I’d classify as extroverted.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. I’m easily distracted. I actually write best in absolute silence.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Not especially. I do enjoy taking a cliche and revising it to fit the theme or world I’m building. It was fun to do in my high fantasy because the characters are hybrids of avian, primate, and marsupial species.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have a home office, from where I’ve worked my day job(s) for the last three years. I love not commuting, and I can use the extra 90 minutes per day I’m not driving a car to write.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I just finished Icarus by Rron Knave, an indie-author, but I haven’t picked up a new book yet. I’m also reading the Fablehaven series to my kids at bedtime, so I guess that counts.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      I love a good villain who’s convinced they’re the hero.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:     I like genre crossovers and retelling of an old story in a different genre. Fractured Fairy tales appeal to me. I also think that the characters all need an internal conflict, as well as an external one, that drives their decisions. If their decisions don’t fit their personality, the plot becomes formulaic and trope-driven and not conflict-driven.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      I love writing more than reading. If I have to choose to spend an hour between writing a paragraph or reading a chapter, without hesitation I’d rather write.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coke Zero with shots of lime and raspberry.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I’m not a pet person. Does God count? Yes. Yes, He does.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:      Write what you love, because your passion will come across from the page and it’ll excite the reader.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Laura A. Barton, Fiction & Nonfiction

My name is Laura A. Barton, and I write a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I used to consider myself strictly a fantasy author, and, while the novel that has taken up the bulk of my life is fantasy, I wouldn’t consider myself exclusively a fantasy writer anymore. At this point, I like telling stories. Toni Morrison is quoted as saying, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” This resonates with me and is at the core of what I do.

Recent Fiction WIPs: Killing Secrets (High Fantasy) and The Assistant (Romance) Recent Non-fiction Publication: Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars and Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin (Second editions, 2020)

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     

        I started really getting into writing when I was 9 years old. I had all these stories floating around in my head, and I felt the need to tell them. Reading has always been a big part of my life, and the stories I read or even the ones I saw on TV inspired my earliest works and drive to write fiction.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:     

        I wrote many “books” starting from that young age, but the first one I really had ambitions of publishing took me 4 months to write the first draft. I don’t think I had a computer yet, and I was writing everything out by hand. I kept all the pages in a special binder and dated my progress each day so I could keep track of how I was doing. I was absorbed by that story and wrote almost every day. I was super proud of that book, and the story and characters still mean a lot to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever publish it.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:

        I don’t have any fiction books published, which is not for lack of trying. I’ve written, and revised, and queried Killing Secrets since 2005, but it’s just not there, yet. Hopefully, it will be in print someday in the near future.

        I do have two non-fiction books published though. The first of those, Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars, began as an idea in 2012 and is an anthology of works from people who live with excoriation (skin-picking) disorder (also called dermatillomania). Between receiving submissions, editing, and then formatting, it took a couple of years before the first edition was published in 2014.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:

        I would say my publishing timeframe has improved since that first publication. I put out the call for submissions for the second non-fiction book I published, Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin, in February 2016, and then it was published in March 2017. Again, it was a matter of working with the submissions, editing, and formatting, but I at least had a sense of what I was doing this time around.    

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:     

        I’ve always had dreams of traditional publishing. Part of that was because when I was younger, self-publishing and vanity publishing were both still very much seen as being the lesser option. The idea was that anyone could self-publish, but only those with true talent got publishing deals. I definitely know how flawed that thinking is now.

While I’d still love to be traditionally published, I have also been considering the indie publishing route. There are so many authors that I love and look up to these days that have gone that path and are doing great. I know it’s a lot of work, which is daunting, but I can see it now as a possibility.

        For my non-fiction books, I self-published them. My target audience—others with excoriation disorder, their support systems, or people just wanting to learn more—is niche, and I didn’t think a traditional publisher would pick up the books. Additionally, I wanted full control over them. I wanted to be able to say what the books looked and felt like. I’m confident I made the right decision for them.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:     

        Target audience is an interesting one for me, and in some regards, I think I’m kind of all over the map. Looking at my oldest WIP, Killing Secrets, to my more recent WIPs and publications, things feel vastly different to me.

Part of the problem with Killing Secrets is that I started writing it when I was 15. I wasn’t quite aware of audience when I started and didn’t really take that sort of thing into consideration. It was just a story I wanted to write, so I did. As a result, however, it’s complicated matters this late in the game. In university, I majored in English Language and Literature, which gave me a more acute sense of audience and readership. Now with each revision or rewrite, I’m almost having to reshape to consider not only age range, but, to some extent, the area of interest. While I believe in writing what you’d like to, audience still plays an important role in the end product.

        As much as I’ve always loved learning literature and writing, I think some part of me felt that learning the craft wasn’t really necessary when it came to being a writer. Realistically, though, it’s so key and has helped me vastly improve how I approach both my fiction and non-fiction writing, in particular with audience. With what I know now, other fiction works I’ve done, like my other WIP, The Assistant, have come more easily because I see how much being aware of these things can shape the story.

What is your publishing process?

Author:   

        For my fiction novels, the publishing process has been a long journey of writing, revising, getting feedback, more revising, and so on. Since I haven’t gotten to publishing those yet, I’m not sure what the end of this process is going to look like, but I can’t wait to find out.

        As for my non-fiction books, being anthologies, the process was pretty much idea, call for submissions, edit submissions, organize submissions, formatting, then publication.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:    

        I’m a fan of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), although in the past, I’ve also used Blurb. Both are good platforms and have their benefits. I feel KDP better fits my needs, however, and will be sticking with that for any indie publishing I do.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     

        Input for my books has come from a number of sources: family, friends, beta readers, critique partners, and others involved in the book’s process (for my non-fiction books). I also used to post online to websites like Fictionpress and deviantART, but I steer away from those these days because of some of the strictness with traditional publishing requirements. The first beta readers I ever worked with, I connected with via a beta reader group on Facebook. The first critique partners I worked with, I connected with on Twitter. Social media can be a great asset for these situations and provides the opportunity to connect with a wider range of people instead of just those in your circle. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family, but it helps to get wider perspective.

My most recent publication was actually a dual publication. In December 2020, I published second editions of Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars and Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin. The reason I wanted to do that was to clean up spelling, grammar, and formatting issues that were missed the first time around, as well as have both books formatted for both print and ebook. Both books were originally released when I was still mostly learning how to navigate putting a book together, let alone publishing anything. I’m grateful for all the help I received for those books and don’t mean to take away any of the work others put in. What I did with the second editions was more of a polish job than any significant changes.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:     

        My primary platform for marketing my work is social media. Again, this is a powerful tool, especially for indie authors. I can’t say I’ve mastered it, but I’m doing what I can.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:     

        When thinking about launch plans, I think about what I like to see and what draws me in. With others launching their books, I like teasers and visual marketing material. The teasers don’t even have to be chapter previews. A good chunk of the books I’ve read lately drew me in because of teaser artwork, aesthetic content, or even an attention-grabbing quote from the story. At its basics, I hope to adopt that sort of launch plan.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

        Reviews are not something I’ve mastered in the slightest. Basically, right now, I just ask people who’ve read my books to leave reviews, but I know that moving forward, I should amp that up. My plans with my fiction novels in particular are to have ARC copies to bring in some reviews, which will hopefully encourage others to read and review as well.

How do you promote your content?

Author:     

        Promoting my content is something that I always thought was simple. Put it out there, mention it, and you’re good to go. With social media as my main platforms, however, the sophistication of the algorithms makes that a challenge. So while I do still create visual content for my social media accounts, I’m also reading into other ways to promote books, such as through ads and so forth. In the past, I’ve also done giveaways, author interviews, and things like that, which are also effective.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:     

         I think success will look different for everyone. For me, having a finished novel, bound in a physical book, is success. I love physical books, so it’s extra special when I can hold my own work in my hands.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:     

        I write fiction and non-fiction. My fiction work is currently focused in on novels. I used to voraciously write short stories and poetry as well, but haven’t really written anything new in those areas in many years. My non-fiction work, so far, consists of two books and online content like blogs, web copy, and so forth.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:     

        Fiction-wise, I mainly write high fantasy and romance novels. For non-fiction, my main subject matter is mental health.

How many works have you published?

Author:     

        I’ve published two non-fiction books and a fairly large body of mostly non-fiction work across the internet. I was also published three times in Brock University Creative Writer’s Club anthologies while I attended for post-secondary studies. Those were the first time I really saw my work in print.

        Being both a fiction and non-fiction writer, I find my brand as an author is both interesting and a challenge to balance. I feel like people think of author brands as whatever their main genre of writing is, but with the way I dip into both the fiction and non-fiction world, it can be difficult. Do I want my brand to be as a fiction author or as a mental health writer? Can I have both? Ultimately, I think I can. I think of authors like Matt Haig, who writes both fiction and non-fiction works and is known for his mental health advocacy. I hope to be able to achieve that sort of balance as well.

I also aim to be personable and approachable. One of the coolest things to me in this day and age is being able to connect with authors and interact with them. When I was younger, I would have loved the opportunity to be able to do that with my favourite authors, but, instead, they were these faraway figures that I only had a connection with via their works. With the advent of social media, it’s possible to connect with authors in an entirely new way, and I love it. I’d love having that chance to connect with my readers.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:     

        One of the things I strive for when I write, and perhaps my most common element, is realness. For my non-fiction work, that comes out with candor. I’m honest about my experiences and share them without shame. For fiction, it’s an effort to create believable worlds that have rules and consequences. My characters will never find themselves in a situation where things can be miraculously solved by magic or a challenging situation is just readily accepted and swept under the rug because it’s convenient. It needs to make sense. Yes, fiction is about the suspension of belief, but the stories that resonate the most with me are those that have an edge of veracity to them.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:     

        I mentioned previously that a reason I got into writing was because I had stories to share, but I’ll be honest, when I was a kid, I also had dreams of being a famous author. On my first “novels” that I wrote when I was 9, I even drew trophies to declare the works as award-winning books. In some regard, I would still like to be a well-known author and to use this craft to support myself financially, but that isn’t the ultimate goal anymore. Now, it really is just about the storytelling and sharing these worlds and characters that accompany me wherever I go and that I love.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:     

        For this question, it depends what they’re reading. Fiction-wise, I want readers to first and foremost enjoy the story, but I’d also love if they found a little nugget of something to take with them. Maybe it’s a nugget of wisdom, maybe it’s a lasting impression of the story, or a connection to the characters. My favourite novels are those that have a lasting impact beyond how much I enjoyed the story.

For my non-fiction writing, I want readers to feel seen and heard. The reason I write mental health works is because I could have benefited from having those resources when I was younger and deeply struggling. For those who aren’t approaching those works from experiences of mental health struggles, I hope it helps them have a better understanding of how people live, struggle, and cope with various mental health conditions.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:     

        What I’m studying the most right now is marketing my work and myself as a writer. This is useful as a writer in general, but since I’m contemplating the indie route of publication, I know that’ll bear some extra weight. I feel like I have things like writing, beta readers, critique partners, and formatting a book pretty well down pat. The marketing of the work, however, is still fairly alien to me.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:     

        My favourite part of writing overall is discovering the story and the characters and getting to know them. I love the magic there is in that, even for books that don’t have magical elements. Getting lost in a narrative is just an incredible experience.

        My favourite part about querying is finding an agent that I feel really fits what I’m looking for and then reaching out. Although there is the aspect of waiting and maybe not hearing back, I don’t get discouraged about these things. I know it’s all part of the process.

        As for publishing, in terms of the self-publishing I’ve done, I love when everything is falling into place, lining up in previewing tools, and being able to hit the submit button. Such a great feeling.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:     

        I’ve always loved fantasy novels, urban fantasy and high fantasy in particular. When I was younger, I also heavily read horror novels, which definitely influenced my writing for a long time. The scarier or gorier I could make my work, the better. Killing Secrets’ first draft was largely built on the idea of writing a fantasy-gore novel, although it’s since steered far from that. I’m not a super fan of that kind of thing anymore.

        I do read in my current genres though: one because I enjoy the stories, and two, because I know how important it is to be familiar with your genre. It helps with seeing what’s popular in the genre, which I can then play into either to add a new twist or give people fan favourite aspects of the genres. In addition to those genres, however, I also really enjoy dystopian fiction, which I don’t write. As much as I love the genre, there’s just a certain finesse to it that I don’t think I have the talent for.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:     

        I am a pantser 99% of the time. Pretty much all of my novels start based on a single idea or a single scene from my head, and then I open up a Word doc and run with it from there. The Assistant is one of the first novels where I’ve really sat down to plan after that initial idea. The idea came from a dream, which I wrote down as a note, but then I later opened up a Word doc and started fleshing it out. I wrote character profiles, did research, wrote out a beat sheet (something I’d literally never done), and then started in on the novel itself.

                Whether I’m pantsing or planning, however, from idea to polished work is a process. I write out the first draft, then when that’s done, I duplicate the document to work on that for the second draft, and so forth with each significant change. I like having a record of the progress because it’s fun looking back to see how things have changed and because it’s useful to have those original ideas in such an accessible way in case I change my mind and want to reincorporate something.

                As is evident with Killing Secrets, it can take me years to get to the polished work, but at the same time, there have been many polished versions of that novel along the way. I think that’s one thing to keep in mind: there may be several versions of the story that you feel are polished, and it’s okay if you end up needing to go back over them to polish some more.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:     

        Twitter and Instagram have become my go-tos for connecting with other writers. I particularly love Instagram for the ways authors share about their stories visually. I do also use Facebook to some degree, and while I have a LinkedIn account, I don’t really connect with other writers there more than just accepting them as connections.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:     

        Definitely somewhere in between. There are days where I can barely get a sentence out, and then there are other times when I can hammer out 10,000 words in a day like it’s nothing (that’s not an exaggeration). I very much enjoy those days because that’s when I feel most connected to the stories and immersed with my characters or whatever I happen to be working on.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:     

        Time has been one of my biggest struggles. I used to have this idea that if I wasn’t published by age X, then I was failing as an author. It’s been a learning process to see that an author’s success isn’t weighted on how young they are or how quickly they get their book out. You can be older and still have success as an author.

How long I’ve been working on Killing Secrets does weigh on me, mostly because I want to be able to share this story with people, but I also know that it’s not ready yet. Handling that idea is a struggle, too.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:     

        My tip for budding authors is that the querying and even the feedback process don’t have to be scary. Not everyone is going to like your work, and some people will be super rude about it. It ultimately says more about them than it does about you as a person or about your work. If you come across someone that doesn’t like your work, definitely process those emotions, but also look for ways that you may be able to benefit from the experience. Maybe you’ll find something useful, but even if you don’t, it’s perfectly okay to set that person’s opinion aside and then get back to it.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:     

        If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I’d change anything. Everything can act as a learning experience and each part of my journey has helped me grow as a writer and storyteller. Was everything perfect? No, but I see value in that imperfection.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:     

        I’d say I’m a driven, self-advocating author, even if I don’t quite have the solid strides to do that yet. I feel like it’s just about learning the methods, but otherwise, I have no problem sharing about my work. There are many areas in my life that I’m meek, anxious, and insecure. Writing, incredibly, has never been one of those areas.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

        I’m not going to lie; sometimes motivation is nowhere to be seen. What keeps me motivated is honestly seeing other authors thrive and reading fantastic stories by others. It pushes me and reminds me why I love doing what I do as a writer, even if I can’t get my butt in gear at that exact moment.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     

        I try not to fight it. Sometimes, the brain just needs a break or I get stuck. I’m okay with letting this percolate for a bit, and I’ll find a new book to read or even a new show or movie to watch. Although there are other times where it’s helpful to push through whatever scene I’m stuck on and just worry about cleaning up whatever that mess is later.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:     

        This is a mixed bag. I have people in my life that support me fully as a writer. They’re eager to read my work, they think I have what it takes to publish, and they cheer me on. One of the things that’s stuck with me the most, however, is being told when I was a child that I needed a “bread and butter job.” It used to bother me, but reflecting back, I get it. Writing is a precarious and competitive field, and the family member who’d say that to me just wanted to make sure I could grow up with a career that would pay the bills. Still, I can’t seem to get that out of my head, and, on some level, it still does feel like someone not believing in me. I’ve had to learn to be okay with that.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:     

        A lot of the time, I listen to whatever I’m obsessed with listening to at the moment. I’m the kind of person that gets hooked on songs or a band, and then I’ll listen to it on repeat for hours on end. I’ve also, in the past, created playlists for my novels, which can help with motivation and setting the mood. I love when I find songs that speak to the narrative of the story or the characters individually. I’m just a big fan of music in general, though.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:     

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:     

        I write wherever I can. With moving to a work-from-home setting, I’ll write at where I’ve set up my work station when I get free moments during the day, but I also write while sitting on the couch or the bed. I’ve also been known to write scenes or notes on my phone wherever I happen to be if an idea suddenly strikes me.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:     

        I love to encourage critical thinking. This stems directly from my time studying literature in university and doing literary analyses of the books I read there. I’m fascinated by the various ways that novels can be interpreted and by making arguments for those interpretations. Nothing is ever black and white, and that’s something I try to push with my creative writing in particular.

Twitter and Instagram: @laura_barton
Facebook: facebook.com/LauraBartonWriter

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Erynn Crittenden, Poetry

My name is Erynn Crittenden, and my main genre is poetry that explores the darker sides of our nature, though I also dabble in flash fiction, short stories, and professional articles.

My poetry collection, By the Bones, is full of monsters and madness. It was recently released and is available on Lulu, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: I started writing poems in middle school, and I used them as an outlet for my imagination, emotions, and to process the things that were happening in my life.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  My poetry collection took over a year. It began as the capstone for my Creative writing degree and blossomed from there!

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author: Again, over a year. Once my book was complete, I sent it to a few beta readers, who gave me some valuable insights on the overall collection. Then, I published it!

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:   Now that I have a small idea of what to expect, I look forward to publishing more works in the future!    

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author: I self-published through Lulu.com because, unfortunately, it can be a challenge to publish poetry traditionally.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author: I want everyone to enjoy my writings, but I understand that some of my topics are more suited to the teen/adult range, so I base my audience on that.  

What is your publishing process?

Author: Write the book. Format the book. Have someone else read the book. Perfect the formatting and layout. Create the cover. Write the blurb. Publish!

The process looks different to everyone, but this is how I got By the Bones out into the world.     .    

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author: I published By the Bones through Lulu.com, but I also publish other poems and writings on my website, Facebook, Twitter, and Vocal.media.  

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author: I asked around on social media. Most of my betas were friends and family, but there were a few other authors in there as well.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author: I run a website that holds my poetry, flash fiction, articles, and a few short stories. I also share these posts on Facebook and Twitter.    

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: I try to get people excited about the finished project before the release date. Then, I share, share, share!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:  Good question! I haven’t gotten any reviews yet, but I’m planning to ask around social media for some.

How do you promote your content?

Author: Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags, mostly, but I am looking to expand it.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:  Word of Mouth. You can’t beat the advertising potential of someone telling their friends about your product, and that is what will make or break your sales.

How do you define success as an author?

Author: Well, I try not to base it off my sales, but that’s what we think of when we hear “success.” However, publishing my book was a huge success for me, not to mention a dream come true, so it depends on how you look at it.  

By the Bones is a graveyard of poems about monsters, madness, and the inevitable darkness that comes for us all.

Within these pages, you’ll find a lost bride, a coven of witches, a failed necromancer, a Wendigo, and more bones than you can count. You’ll also explore real places, such as Japan’s “Suicide Forest,” the Body Farm of Tennessee, and the famous catacombs of Paris.

By the Bones is a Graveyard, but readers beware- You may not want to visit alone…

Find out more at: By the Bones – The Writings of Erynn Crittenden (ladyerynn.com)

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author: Poetry is my specialty, but I also enjoy writing flash fiction, short stories, and informative articles.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:  Horror, fantasy, twisted romance, realism, and humor.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:  I based my brand on my love of everything dark and macabre, and I chose it because my writings often explore those hidden realms.

How many works have you published?

Author: By the Bones is my only published collection, but I have made contributions to at least five published anthologies- not to mention the 90 or so posts I have on my website.  

(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:   My most recent publication is titled “Snow,” and it’s a short collection of poems to celebrate the first snow day of the year. It’s currently on my website.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author: I enjoy writing about bones, death, religions, the unknown, and how we cope with daily life.  I also like to add a dark twist to my stories- be it a death, a compromise, or an aspect of reality that often goes unnoticed. Those bring out the best emotions from my readers.    

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author: My goal was to become a published author, and I’ve done that! Now, my goal is to finish a full-length novel and have it traditionally published within the next few years.   

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:   I have a website, and I plan to make video updates and a podcast in the future.    

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author: I want my readers to think. To experience different viewpoints, open their minds, and explore places that they’ve never been before.     

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author: I’m learning about different genres and how to expand my writing from flash fiction and poetry to full-blown novels. It’s…different…but I’m excited about the challenge!

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author: I’m not great at querying or publishing, so I’m going to say that writing is my favorite part!      

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author: If possible, I recommend taking some college English/writing courses. When I returned for my degree in Creative Writing, I learned more about the craft than I ever expected! It helped me grow stronger as an author, and I believe it can help other writers do the same.

If college isn’t an option, there are more affordable classes through Udemy, and you can find numerous writing websites to help you in your journey. Personally, I like Grammarly to check my work, Submittable for open submissions, and Atlas Obscura for topics and unique writing ideas.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author: I’m not sure what other authors are out there that are similar, but I do know that my works are inspired by Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and others like them.  

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:  I read everything, not just the genre I like to write, and that helps me mix different genres and elements into my writings. If you stick to reading one genre, you’ll only write one genre, and I want to write whatever captures my fancy. Therefore, I read them all!

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:  Oh, I’m 100% a pantser. When I get an idea, I like to let the story and characters tell me what to write. Poetry takes a couple of hours; flash fiction takes a day or so, short stories take a few weeks, and I’m still working on my novel idea, which has taken about a month to get where I am now.

It all depends on the idea I have and the form I plan to use.     

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:  Twitter is the best for networking with other authors, but I also use Facebook and Instagram on occasion.     

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author: I’m somewhere in between. For longer works, I have periods of obsession where I can sprint write for days, then I’ll grow bored and let it sit for a few days before becoming obsessed again. For shorter works, I can usually churn it out in a day or so.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author: The impostor syndrome!! Who am I to count myself among the great authors of the world? I’m nobody! And yet, here I am, with a full-blown poetry collection. It’s unreal!

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:  It will wear you out. Just remember that the rejections you get, and you will get rejections, are not necessarily a reflection on your writing. Take a moment to grieve, then submit again!   

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author: The publication game is fierce. There are hundreds of books being queried and published every day, and it can be discouraging. My advice is to look at self-publishing.

Self-published authors have such a stigma around them, but some of the best books I’ve read have come from self-published authors. It’s not a bad option.    

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author: I’d start marketing By the Bones long before it was released. Otherwise, I’m happy with what I’ve done.      

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author: I’ll admit that marketing isn’t my strong suit, but I’m by no means shy about it. I just need to learn how to do it more effectively.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: Coffee. I drink a lot of coffee.

In all seriousness, I try to write one story or poem a week so I can post something new on my website every Sunday. I also write for work, which includes about two articles a week, so motivation isn’t usually hard for me to find.      

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author: I take a walk, read, watch tv, play video games, and play with my daughter. Sometimes, doing anything other than writing is how you get the muses to sing again.  

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author: Oh gosh, I have learned so much over the years that it’s hard to choose just one. Maybe Syllabic Poetry. 90% of my poems are syllabic in nature, but I didn’t know that until last year.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author: They enjoy it! Well, most of them. My mom is a little hesitant on the darker stuff, but they’ve always supported me and given me feedback when I’ve asked for it.      

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:  That writing is easy. It’s not. It takes work, dedication, creativity, and research to make a story come together, and not everyone can create a good piece of poetry or a good story. But we writers are dedicated to the craft, and that makes all the difference.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author: Spotify. I have a wide variety of music that I bounce between, but my recent favorites have been Nox Arcana, Heilung, and a playlist I created of female-led bands with witchy or magical vibes. 

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:  I like finding obscure words to add to my poetry, like “pell,” “apace,” and “Ululations.”

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author: Mostly at my desk, but I will occasionally venture out into the world and write in a coffee shop or while waiting at the doctor’s office. My desk is where I am the most comfortable, though.     

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:  The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. As my brother says, “It’s the self-help book that makes the other self-help books work!”

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:  The enemies-become-friends-become-lovers trope. It gets me every time!   

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author: I like to think that I give a unique twist to old tropes and situations. In reality, I’m not sure what makes me unique- I just know that I write what the muses tell me to.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:  I’ve learned that I’m not a bad writer! My words have merit, and I have every right to share them with the world.       

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: Coffee and carbs make the world go ‘round!      

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:  My dog will usually sit with me when I’m at my desk, but otherwise, I’m on my own.         

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author: My late grandfather’s last words to me were: “Erynn, always remember PYOA- Protect Your Own Ass- because no one’s gonna do it for you.”

That advice had stayed with me, and it has saved me from more than one questionable situation.

I’m everywhere!

I’m always happy to connect with new people, so drop a line to say Hi!       

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: B.B. Reed, Fantasy/Mystery

I am B.B. Reed, a fantasy/mystery author, and my most recent publication was DEMON EYE, book 1 of the Blood Witch Saga. Book 2 is currently in editing and forecasted for release in mid-2021!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I started writing fantasy in middle school after getting immersed in early online fantasy games, though why I did so is harder to answer. Part of it is due to good world building in media like Warcraft or reading The Last Apprentice—those worlds give you so many building blocks to craft stories from! The other part, I reckon, is this was about the time in my life when my older brother wasn’t as large a role in my life. He’d gone off to college and traveled abroad. It was my first time being alone and having nobody around that I could bounce my thoughts off of. So, I started throwing my musings and ideas down on paper, either as drawn art or a mess of words in a notebook.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:     It took me six years to complete DEMON EYE. Now that I’ve crossed the finish line, I’m kinda kicking myself wondering what took me so long. Honest, though, I had to spend that time teaching myself how to properly write in a novel format, how to make a plot work, how to craft a living world, how to make characters have impacts and techniques on when to raise the stakes.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      Seven years in total.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      My publishing timeframe has improved SIGNIFICANTLY! Book 2 has taken about a year or two to already be in editing and polishing stage.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie author because I have a story that needs to be told. It’s not one that most traditional publishing houses would want or are looking for. Besides, I did most of the work an agent or copyeditor would have done anyway.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I am still working on that, I think. I know the Dungeons & Dragons crowd would appreciate the fantasy world of Moira, and then the LGBTQ community would appreciate the inclusion of gay characters on the stage. The themes of witchcraft and feminism would draw the wiccan crowd on top of that. It feels like I cast a wide net with this material.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      Amazon Kindle is my publishing platform due to convenience and some sentimental tie to the name. My career in IT has benefitted greatly from Amazon’s tech certifications.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I ask, and I ask, and I ask. Anyone, literally, who would put down the time and effort to consume my novels. So far, my primary source of feedback and editing is a dear friend of mine in the UK who coaches me in some of the classics like Dune and Jules Verne.

DEMON EYE is my debut novel, setting the stage for a series of fantasy novels following the adventures of the main character, Halena Maris. She’s a wandering witch in the kingdom of Arram, helping peasant folk too afraid to confront the entities of the night. Halena makes what coin she can to support her nomadic life and her pursuit of knowledge, until she has a chance at the biggest payout yet as a noblewoman contracts her for an investigation. She’s caught between the world of nobles and black magic as she struggles to keep up with a conspiracy against the throne, or risks her demonic secret being revealed.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      My current marketing platform is through Twitter and Amazon KDP exclusively.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      Launch means I turn Twitter and my online Discord communities on blast with my work. I almost feel bad for the massive signal boosting, but it must be done!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I mostly do grass roots solicitation for reviews. Signed copies, free physical copies, whatever makes a potential reader’s eyes light up. I make sure to inform them how their input for reviews not only helps me become a better author, but also makes the gremlins behind Amazon’s algorithms circulate my work. Otherwise, I post reminders on the regular on Twitter about the importance of reviews for us indie authors.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I post snippets and one-liners from my book, as well as sharing pieces of non-spoiler artwork I’ve bought over the years that feature my characters from The Blood Witch Saga. On top of that, I divide and conquer. These promotions go through Twitter, Facebook, and my discord communities.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      You’ve succeeded as an author when you hold your book in your hand and feel yourself compelled to start reading it just as your audience would. Every time I do that, I fall in love with my work all over again.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I have begun an Epic Fantasy series with DEMON EYE, and on the side, I do short stories as well. My content usually features dark themes, like the dangers of the esoteric unknown behind magic, or I’ll scrape myself against the grit of war stories to prod at the man vs. man challenges in that theater. I write about these things because I feel like I’ve had a brush with components of those themes. Death, reflecting on your own mortality, what is the quality of a life lived? All the window dressing of fantasy or sci-fi war scenarios helps to frame these themes in more digestible ways.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I write fiction that straddles across Sci-FI, Fantasy, Horror, and mystery

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      My brand is definitely Fantasy—especially darker fantasy since I write about witchcraft and magic. However, I hope the message I put out is that despite having an affinity for dark and gothic themes, there is love and acceptance in that. I didn’t so much decide on this as it more just… happened!

How many works have you published?

Author:      One with my second in the works! Goodness, it sounds like I’m talking about kids.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      Magick is a huge factor in the Blood Witch series, as well as keeping the reader on their toes as the plot unfolds. I’m also a proponent of maintaining villains that believe they’re on the right side of events.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      My first goal was to complete a manuscript draft! But seriously, my goal was to bring a unique and compelling story to the table that someone could reasonably digest. I see no reason in delivering a story that requires a codex to decode heavy exposition. That goal has remained true, I think, and I wish to continue delivering stories that people will enjoy.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      I want readers to pull out Halena’s internal struggle, to feel and empathize with her. Some of the challenges she endures are ones many of us face, whether it’s struggling with mental illness or our neuroses that make us quiver. I want them to see that despite all these factors, having friends and loved ones to turn to is not a show of weakness, but how you must weather those internal storms.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      My favorite part of the writing process has to be the content generation part of it when making your first draft. You reach those pieces you’ve just been waiting to put down on paper, it’s like riding the lightning! In recent time, however, I have come to love the process of editing too.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      Kim Wedlock writes magic-focused fantasy like I do and you can find everything you need to know about her work at her Twitter handle (@KimWedlock) or look her up on Amazon!

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      In the past, I read a lot of fantasy novels, but in recent time I have pulled away mostly because I’m overly familiar with the genre. Reading detective novels by the likes of Jim Butcher or folk tales by Neil Gaiman have been really invigorating. I’m a firm believer that you have to consume media on the regular to generate new media of your own.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a plotter—or an architect—when it comes to my process. I need a rough idea of where I’m going or else I risk writing myself into a corner. I jot down notes for beats and highlights, as well as a few details I don’t want to forget. However, my timeline isn’t very reliable because I outline my stories from high-level end-to-end plot to begin, then outline as I go by story acts. There’s a method to this madness, I swear!

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      Twitter has been a decent means of networking with other artists and writers, however, I feel it is not a good means of circulating that media amongst ourselves. The company has also made it abundantly clear it has no interest in supporting the creative demographic. Otherwise, I’ve met other creatives through gaming communities through Discord and network there.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      I sprint when I’m writing a scene I have clear in my head and I just NEED IT to be done. I just can’t wait to see how it turns out! Then, once that rush is done, it’s back to milder and slow-paced writing as I try to figure out how to link all these high notes together in a good way.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Imposter syndrome has been the hardest hurdle in my road to authorship. Querying made me feel like nobody wanted my vision, but I remained stubborn to keep on the path. My characters and their story were worth it.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      It’s shown me just how true the old phrase, “You eat an elephant one bite at a time,” is in real life. Everything is possible if you remain disciplined and persistent. However, I will say that the querying process has left less-than-stellar sentiments with me. So, for you budding writers out there, please take inventory of your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, or it’s making you hate the work you love, listen to those feelings.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Take Neil Gaiman’s writing advice and start writing. You can always edit it later.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I wouldn’t have wasted a year on the publishing industry’s niche standards and requirements.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I’m definitely a self-advocating author and I’m driven to finish my work to release to everyone for consumption. I will admit I procrastinate in my marketing because I’ve found it to be utterly draining to maintain.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I make or commission art of my characters from the main cast of the Blood Witch Saga. Seeing them in such a tangible form and the interpretations varied between artists is so fulfilling and it drives me to keep writing their stories.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force the block and I set aside time to consume new media, as well as make an effort to express myself through my visual art.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      My heart skipped when my mother told me she couldn’t put my book down, then I was blown away when my church-going cousin bombarded me with all these questions about my world. There was a piece of me that thought they were being nice in supporting me up until that feedback came. Then I knew that I had something worth it.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      Many tend to think writing is a lonely profession, and while it does require a degree of loneliness to accomplish the great task of crafting the novel, it could not be accomplished without community. People to exchange ideas with, friends and family to reassure you through the hardships, and the criticisms of how to improve yourself. There is no self-made man behind that book, there is him and the hands he held before touching the paper.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I listen to film and game orchestra scores. You have no idea how well the 1989 Batman score can set the mood for a scene!

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Esoteric, yawning, sable, haunt

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      In “The Before-times,” I used to sit in a local coffee shop or Denny’s with breakfast and spend a few hours banging away at my laptop. Nowadays, I gotta get that writing machine going at my own dining table.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I’m reading Around the World in 80 Days right now!

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      I break the mould by putting fantasy and mystery together, as well as featuring black magic as a force of good rather than being inherently evil.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      The overlap between my visual artistic pursuits and my literary pursuits came together to make this possible for me.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      LaCroix and Chex Mix

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      My own black cat named Patty!

My primary haunt is via Twitter:  @WonderBran31

Follow me on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/B-B-Reed/e/B08BPDV3LZ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

And you can see a portfolio of my other hobbies at https://bbreedart.squarespace.com/

Writer's Blog

Book Publishing Secrets

This is a post I wrote for one of my book tours, but I wanted to share it with you again in case any of you might be looking for some tips! The book I reference is listed below. You can view the original post here: Book Publishing Secrets

A romantic-suspense novel featuring: miscarriage, hot co-workers, cybersecurity threats, and the struggle of defining family.
With only an abusive mother-figure to guide her, Norah has learned everything the hard way. An unexpected pregnancy with her fiancé changed her career plans. But miscarriage and betrayal thrust everything in reverse again. Eerie things start happening at work, and Norah finds herself at the center of the investigation.
Secrets tumble forth from Norah’s father, her ex-fiancé, and the mystery around her adoption, breaking the walls she’s put up to protect her heart. Now, more than ever, she longs for trust, love, and a family of her own.
Bonding with her handsome co-worker, Evan, and his teenage daughter, Ashley, Norah gets a glimpse of cohesive family life. She finds herself falling for Evan and becoming an unlikely source of help and understanding for Ashley. Evan and Ashley have an empty seat at their table, one Norah wishes to fill. Yet the guilt of taking the previous woman’s place threatens to keep them apart.
Can Norah overcome the scars of her past and discover her inner strength? And will the private letter from her father answer her questions or destroy the family, and the man, she’s come to love?
ORDER YOUR COPY Amazon → https://amzn.to/2wYVKLh 
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
I didn’t set out on this journey thinking, “I want to be an author.” I just had stories I wanted to share with others. A Promise in Ash was prompted by the feeling of emptiness and failure I experienced after a miscarriage. It developed into a full story after an interesting encounter with a woman as one of the RV parks we’ve stayed at over the years. Her tales inspired the book to become what it is today. I think it’s important to talk about miscarriage and abuse. The more we do, the less uncomfortable the topics become. I just felt like fiction was a gentler way to go about this than self-help.
Is this your first book?
No, this is my 5th book. I’ve also written three sci-fi fantasies and one holiday romance.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
I’m a self-publisher by nature. I love learning how to do things, so it just seemed like the right fit: doing everything myself. But I also chose self-publishing because I didn’t think I was ready for querying, traditional agents, and contracts. It sounded more serious than I was prepared to dive into. I wanted to figure the system out before I put time and effort into queries.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
My first book was pretty rough the first time around. I’ve edited it a few times since and changed the cover. I’m finally happy with it, but it took a while. But lack of sales came down to a lack of marketing platform and knowledge of marketing in the beginning. I’m much better at it now, but it’s still hard to compete with the pros.
I still like having total creative control. I design my covers too. This can be detrimental in the beginning when you have no idea what you’re doing. I know I’ve learned a lot, but sometimes I still feel like I’m just “winging it.” Eventually, you learn to trust your training and instincts, and then move on when a project is done. Getting bad reviews sucks. But even super famous books have them. So I figure if I get just a few great reviews, the book was a success.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
There is a lot of competition. There will always be the top 100 books to read for the year. But I’ve read some fantastic books by indie authors with less than ten reviews. They’re great writers, but they aren’t included in the top 100 because of lack of discoverability. Indie publishing is great, but it’s led to market saturation. If you want to get readers’ eyes on your books, you have to advertise.
Traditional publishing is getting more competitive. It’s not just enough now to have a superb query letter and a polished manuscript. You have to have a social media following. Yep. I’ve seen people rejected for that very thing. A marketing platform is everything.
I didn’t understand how to narrow down my audience in the beginning. I’m still working on it. But it’s not enough to search for readers in your genre. You have to focus on the subgenre and key interests. I’m finding this issue is surfacing again with my romance. I have a holiday romance and a dark contemporary romance, which I list as romantic suspense because there’s yet to be a subgenre for that. But readers of one book won’t like the other. The themes and content are too different. It’s frustrating to start over with a readership, but it’s important to acknowledge and respect how very particular some readers are.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Sure. I think it’s great to be able to say that you’re an author and have a physical copy of something to show others. People need to share their stories, whether true or fictional. With as much competition as there is now for traditional slots, I think indie authorship is a great alternative. Everybody has a story to tell, even if it’s just their memoir. When we share our ideas and concepts, we discover things about each other and humanity.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Be realistic, which I know is hard when you’re not really sure what you’re getting yourself into. Hopes and prayers aren’t enough to get your book done and seen. You have to be prepared to do a lot of work. Writing is hard. Editing is harder. Formatting is cake. The cover is the frosting; make it look darn pretty. Publishing is eating cake. Marketing is the hardest.
You need a marketing plan before you publish. You need an author brand, at least in concept. You need to know who will support you, what the genre expectations are, and how to avoid all the amateur mistakes.
You need to have conviction. Writing will only be one tiny facet of the business if you choose to become a full-time author. You’re going to spend a lot of money on ads and websites and programs—tons of stuff. Save your receipts. You won’t make a lot the first few years until you start to figure the system out. Don’t quit your day job if you can help it.
Remember why you started writing. Remind yourself of this every day, so you don’t get discouraged. There are going to be chunks of time with no sales. You’re going to get bad reviews. Every author, even famous ones, get them. Don’t pull your book down. Don’t quit writing. You’re going to get better, but only if you don’t give up.
Thanks for having me!
Best wishes!
-Elysia

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Book Publishing Secrets with Elysia Strife @elysialstrife #books #bookpublishing

Elysia Strife is a self-published author of science-fiction fantasy and romance novels.
Adopted by two educators, Strife developed a deep love for learning new things. In 2012, she graduated from Oregon State University with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Health and Human Sciences: Interior Design and Exercise Sport Science. Her past wears fatigues, suits, and fitness gear, sprinkled with mascara and lace.
“I like to question everything, figure out how things work, and do tasks myself. Experiencing new things is fun but also helps with writing raw and genuine stories. And I’m always trying to push my comfort zones.”
Strife likes the rumble of her project car’s 350-ci V8. She enjoys the rush of snowboarding and riding ATVs on the dunes. But nothing brings her more solace than camping in the mountains where the stars are their brightest.
Strife enjoys connecting with readers and welcomes all feedback and questions.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: elstrife.com
Blog

Reblog: Author Interview by The Pulp & Mystery Shelf

You can find the original post here:

https://mysteryshelf.com/friday-sf-fantasy-stellar-fusion/

Interview with the Author

What initially got you interested in writing?

Since I was a kid, I spent free time coming up with new stories, playing out different scenarios with the people and events going on around me. I never really took a serious interest in it until my husband and I started traveling for his job to some pretty remote areas where there was little to do outside within reasonable driving distance. There’s only so much time a housewife can spend on Pinterest before her vision blurs. So I decided to try out that crazy writer dream. When I realized how many self-publishing services were available and the popularity of indie publishing (no longer feeding the stigma of “artists can’t make money”), I was thrilled. But I’m the type that sees an open door and wants to peek inside.

What genres do you write in?

I primarily write science fiction, fantasy, romance (holiday and suspense), and one children’s book (planning a few more). I should add that most of my books have a military subgenre or at least a character connected to the military in some way.

What drew you to writing these specific genres?

I’m a sucker for anything space-related. I love Star Trek and Star Wars and reading scifi novels. So that choice came about naturally. I enjoy romance novels that feature imperfect people struggling to better themselves in a judgmental world. Sometimes, I have to write what I only wish I could find to read. I also have a few fantasy novels in the works for publication in the next few years. Those are mostly a fun way to experiment with character stories that don’t fit the typical profiles.

How did you break into the field?

Stellar Fusion is my first book. I started with science fiction because I had the strongest, most-developed idea in that genre. I stumbled my way through a few different versions while learning the self-pub landscape. But soon after I published the first version, I had a five star review from a customer. So I thought, “Okay, maybe my writing doesn’t suck.” I’m now three books into that series with one romance and one children’s book published, and three more books coming this year, possibly four if I can manage it. I don’t think readers know how much they motivate us with their reviews.

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

There are countless messages in my books, so it would be hard to list them all here. It’s not so much that I’m imposing ideas, merely presenting them for consideration. I want readers to enjoy the action scenes and quieter loving moments, but I also hope they think about the conflicts. I have tons of symbols in my books, though I won’t define them outright.

A few messages in my works:

Family doesn’t have to be blood.

Love and understanding can mend most things.

We build more when we let go of our differences.

No one’s life is perfect, even if it looks that way.

Scars are beautiful symbols of strength.

Invisible illnesses hurt too.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

When someone reviews one of my books and points out something that really stuck with them, it confirms that what I’m writing has meaning, that I made their life for the better if only for a moment. I write stories that I love, but I publish them for my readers. Knowing what makes readers happy, within my work, helps me (constructively) fine-tune the next books.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Developmental self-editing is hard. It’s difficult to know how others will perceive certain events or bits of dialogue. This is why critique partners are so important. Getting multiple perspectives can make a huge difference. What is normal to me may not be normal for others. The most difficult part is finding CPs that will finish the whole book and give quality feedback. Without them, the manuscript can’t move on for further editing. I’m patient with most things. But when it comes to getting my books published, I’m a kid in a candy store, already hyped-up on Twinkies and caramel macchiatos.

What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

It’s not hard if you set up a plan and stick to it.

Write your book, and then take a class on editing/writing craft. Edit your book. Do this a few times before your search for CPs. And CP before you hire an editor. It will help you cut out unnecessary chunks so you don’t have to pay an editor to tell you the same thing.

Have a website and a marketing plan. Readers today want to see you in at least three places online to know you’re legit: Amazon, Goodreads, and a personal website for your books—at a minimum. If you can be on a few social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, do that.

Set up a blog.

Build an email subscriber list so you can send Advanced Review Copies of your books as a thank you for being loyal.

Set up a pre-order.

Run ads before, during, and after launch.

Do book review campaigns.

The list seems endless. It kind of is. Just try a few things and figure out what works for you. Most of us can’t afford to do everything, so be deliberate in what you choose to put your money toward. Look at reviews for the services and try to aim for your best ROI.

I will say this: no marketing platform = no one will know your book even exists. If you’re not getting sales, that’s likely the reason.

What type of books do you enjoy reading?

I love fast-paced scifi and fantasy that blend science and magic. Cyberpunk, biopunk. and space exploration/battle themes are my favorite. Action, crazy tech, galactic empires, aliens, robots, and comedic characters are some of my most enjoyed elements.

I’m also a fan of holiday romance for its cozy and uplifting mood and romantic suspense for the tense mystery and the ever-beating question of whether the lovers will make it together or not.

Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

I actually don’t like sitting inside at my computer. I’d much rather be outside hiking, camping, riding ATVs, working on the car, gardening, bodybuilding at the gym, etc. I’m not your typical book lover. I am not librarian material. But I write from my experiences, from places we’ve traveled in our RV, and from the people that I’ve met. I want my stories to feel as real as they can, so I often write from experience.

What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

You can find more info on my books at: http://atomic-temporary-109968461.wpcomstaging.com or on my Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/elysiastrife

I’m also on social media:

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Thanks for having me!

Best wishes!